Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro - Van Dam, Freni, Janowitz, von Stade, Bacquier, Berbié, Sénéchal; Solti. Versailles, 1973
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Mozart fans don't need me to point out how outstanding the cast is for this recording of Le Nozze di Figaro. What is remarkable is that despite the obvious star power of this cast, everyone manages to put aside egos and mesh into the kind of ensemble that makes a Mozart opera great. José Van Dam's smooth bass baritone conveys a Figaro with a noble bearing that actually exceeds that of Gabriel Bacquier as the Count. It is to Mirella Freni's credit that despite moving into heavier repertoire she still held onto the role of Susanna. She brings a mature sensibility to a role that so often can be delegated to only the chirpiest of sopranos. Gundula Janowitz can seem a little cold at times as the Countess but her smooth pure voice is perfect for Mozart's music. The stand-out by far is the Cherubino of Fredrica Von Stade. This run marked a major debut for her and would solidify an important relationship between her and the European public. Georg Solti's conducts a swift performance, free of many of the strange mannerisms that he would bring to Mozart in his later years. The sound is good.